Joyce Carole Oates never ceases to amaze me, not only with her story lines, but the depth of the characters in her novels. In her novel, Missing Mom , a tribute to her own mother, who is no longer living, Oates has gone one step beyond herself, and given us insight in a magnificently crafted novel. I feel that this book must have been a catharsis, of sorts, for Oates, to help her through her devastating loss. She most certainly must have helped others, dealing with the loss of a mother or a father.
Having lost my own mother 11/11/2004 (Veterans Day of all days), this story line captured my attention, and I could not put the book down until I had finished it, reading it straight through, overnight. It was a sobering and compelling read, and filled with true-life situations. This reader could feel the pain that emanated between the lines. I saw myself in several of the painful situations.
In the character of Nikki, I saw the reality of what denial can do to a person. She had several dimensions, but most of them were superficial. In the end, she became the person she feared she would become. Realizing that she had become that person, she slowly adjusted to that facet of her being. Oates illuminates the varied phases and emotional conflicts quite brilliantly.
Nikki’s mother was constantly in her life, although, no longer living (I can definitely empathize and relate to that aura). From her clothes to the house decorations, to the entertaining of friends/family, we see she is her mother’s daughter, guilt-ridden, yet caring and loving, at the same time. Loss has no barriers in the time continuum.
This reader felt Nikki’s loss, felt her denial, felt her pain, and watched her take baby steps in healing. Even though she continued to heal and move forward, I understood that she would always be missing her mother. The void of loss would be a constant for Nikki, yet the will to find a sense of acceptance resonated quite vividly.
The bereavement process is a difficult time in a person’s life. Joyce Carole oates has written a story line so poignant, heart-wrenching and a story extremely filled with the consumption of death and its after-effects and after-affects, in her novel, Missing Mom.
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